Before You Say ‘I do”

Jenny and Debbie were on the extreme sides of the spectrum. Jenny came from a financially stable home, whereas Debbie’s single-mom worked at two jobs to make ends meet.

Debbie was very ambitious and a risk-taker.

Jenny on the other hand had a strong aversion to debt. Before they got married, she told him he needed to sell the condominiums as she was uncomfortable with that level of debt.

A wise aunt once said to me just before my wedding, “After every wedding begins a marriage.” Except for planning the wedding, I think it would be safe to guess that most couples rarely broach the subject of money before they tie the knot.

While finance appears to be a topic rarely discussed before marriage, it seems to be the main issue when couples choose to separate.

As part of planning your lives together, you should also be discussing your financial future together.

  • Recognize and respect the fact that you come from different backgrounds. Most of us adopted our relationship with money through what was demonstrated in our families. Was yours a single-income family? Is your partner from a totally different socio-economic background?

How did you parents manage their finances? Were they spendthrifts? Or were they prudent with their money? There are cultural differences in how a person approaches their personal finances. Some cultures appear to be better at saving than others.

  • You don’t have to adopt the money beliefs held in your home. Discuss what money means to each of you personally. What were your past experiences with money?
  • Discuss how you feel about debt. Just as people have different levels of tolerance for risk, some people are more comfortable carrying debt than others.
  • Discuss whether you want joint accounts or would prefer to keep things separate.
  • How will you share the costs of running a home?
  • Be transparent about your debts, assets, and financial obligations. It is one way to get real! Many people are more willing to bear their bodies before bearing their financial assets and liabilities.
  • See a financial adviser. Choose someone you can both be happy with.
  • Discuss the issue of control – how much control does each person feel they need in the area of finances. How much do you feel you need to tell each other before making a purchase?
  • How will you deal with conflict regarding money?
  • Discuss your goals - individually, and as a couple – do not assume that just because you have come together means you share a similar vision.

Talking about money in a supportive way can only encourage greater intimacy, something we all want in our marriages.

 

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